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A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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2 December 2016

International Symposium
on Sustainable Food Systems
for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition
Closing Statement



Ladies and gentlemen,

This Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition has come to an end.

We have seen inspiring presentations and fruitful discussions.

I am sure that we are all leaving with new ideas on how to develop programmes and policies to deliver on the bold commitments of ICN2 and the 2030 Agenda, especially SDG 2 of ending all forms of malnutrition.

I take from this symposium four key messages:

First, we urgently need to promote a transformational change in food systems and food environments to tackle all forms of malnutrition and promote healthy diets.

Second, strong political commitment at national level is essential for achieving this transformational change. Improving nutrition is also a public issue.

This requires the participation of many stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society and parliamentarians.

My third point is that we must empower consumers to choose healthy diets. But we cannot lose sight of the people who produce our food.

Many of them are extremely poor people that need better access to productive resources.

We must make sure that 500 million family farmers have an equal voice, equal access, and equal rights in our quest to end hunger and malnutrition.

My fourth and last point is that climate change is one of the major risks we face.

There have been many calls for us to evaluate the nutritional impacts of climate change.

Climate change approaches need to become more nutrition-driven.

And building resilience and promoting adaptation are fundamental.

We have also noted that the Decade of Action on Nutrition can be a great platform for mobilizing concerted action to end malnutrition in every country.

This must also be the Decade of Impact.

Ladies and gentlemen,

A technical symposium of this magnitude would not be possible without the hard work of many people.

I would like to express my gratitude to Excellency Minister Beatrice Lorenzin of Italy, who accepted to take on the responsibility as Chair of the Symposium.

I thank Professor Patrick Webb for delivering an excellent keynote presentation that inspired the future professionals who participated in the student session.

The International Advisory Panel placed their expertise at our disposal and guided us through the planning of the event.

The Technical Task Team also supported us in this regard.

The German Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided vital financial support.

The Italian Government supported us in building a conducive environment for the success of this symposium.

I thank the WHO for working very closely with FAO to deliver on our mandates, and also to our sister UN agencies and other close allies, such as IFPRI, for their collaboration and support.

I thank Member Countries, civil society and the private sector for their strong participation in the discussions.

I also thank FAO staff and the interpreters for their hard work.

Before concluding, let me highlight two points:

First is that nutrition is a challenge for all countries.

And this challenge cannot only be faced as a private issue by individuals and families alone.

This is also public issue. Governments have responsibilities on nutrition. And they must assume these responsibilities.

The second point is that to produce healthy diets, we need to start with healthy soils and healthy seeds, then promote sustainable agriculture, and finally achieve a food chain that can minimize food waste and loss.

In the meantime, we need to assure adequate remuneration for family farmers and empower consumers to choose healthy food.

So we need to promote healthy and sustainable food systems from production to consumption.

I wish you all “bon voyage” as you return to your countries and home stations.

Thank you very much.